Key Takeaways from Mopar CSBK Round One at Shannonville Motorsport Park

With the National motorcycle roadracing tour finally underway, we looked at a few possible trends for the 2016 Mopar CSBK Series.

Champ Steps Up

BMW’s Jordan Szoke has a target on his back, and he knows it. Not quite as fast as he expected early in the program, Szoke was one of only two riders really ready for the opening round, along with arch-rival Kenny Riedmann on a Kawasaki. You couldn’t really blame the competition – there just hasn’t been much warm, dry running opportunities in Canada this spring, especially compared to recent seasons.

Riedmann looked to have the edge with his Scott Cameron-built, brand new ZX-10R Ninja heading into Dalton Timmis Insurance Qualifying, but a crash late in the final session probably hurt his chances. While both Riedmann and the on-form Matt McBride aboard his just-delivered Rider’s Choice BMW threatened, ultimately Szoke had the pace to cash the first DTG big cheque.

What the opposition most wanted was exactly what happened at the start of the 22 lap Feature, Szoke getting boxed in, forced to play catch-up. But Szoke quickly cleared the busy pack and then hunted down McBride late in the race, earning his eight straight win. The Champ hasn’t lost a CSBK Feature race since July, 2014, and a cynic would argue his ambitious young opposition missed a good chance to break the building streak last Sunday at Shannonville.

Yamahas Out In Force

After a strong debut for Alex Welsh in a one-off at the end of last season’s Mopar CSBK at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park with his Hindle-backed YZF-R1M, fans were looking forward to seeing, and hearing, a few new Yamahas at the Shannonville 40th Anniversary festival. Full-time, potential front running Yamaha efforts include riders Kevin Lacombe (Motosport St-Cesaire), Trevor Daley (OneSpeed) and returning former winner Bodhi Edie (Trip-Dub Racing).

All the Yamahas looked great, with perhaps the best bike in terms of up-close investigation belonging to returning from injury, rookie Pro Marco Sousa. Definitely the best, or strangest, sounding Yamaha belonged to Daley, with various electronic options operating at different points on the 11-turn circuit.

Edie had the edge in the race, running in the first pack, before the slick conditions caught him out in the final turn, late in the race. HE remounted to net a good ninth.

Daley survived an off-course trip to still net a very useful seventh, Lacombe retired early, and Sousa placed 16th. Expect much more from the R1 brigade as they learn to dial-in the electronics of the powerful Yamaha.

Steady Scot Holds Forth

Ben Young was a talking point during the off season, as he considered a switch from MotoAmerica’s 600cc division to the Feature class in Mopar CSBK. When the former G.P. class star opted for a BMW program with support from Tim Horton’s and Scot Build, discussion switched to the much experienced Young’s potential against the CSBK front runners.

Young didn’t get to ride his Scott Cartier built, Willie Vass chassis tuned S1000RR until Wednesday at a Shannonville track day, and the program progressed steadily, and with little drama, from the on. With lots of running, Young was clearly getting comfortable with close to 200 horsepower, while the paddock got use to his aggressively Scottish companions!

Fourth on the grid after running fourth best in most sessions, Young showed well in the final, just missing the podium in…fourth. More track time will certainly help the 22-year-old get used to big bike performance, and the tight confines of Autodrome St-Eustache at the end of June will certainly be a fresh challenge.

Veteran Leon Shows Pace

A front runner in a number of National classes over the past two decades, Michael Leon moved to the Feature Superbike class in Mopar CSBK in 2015, and showed well in his rookie campaign with the Royal Distributing BMW. However the deeper field of 1000cc machines would certainly prove a new challenge for Leon and other regulars in 2016.

Leon had a rough debut with his latest BMW at Shannonville, including a crash in the opening, lousy conditions RACE Regional at S.M.P. in mid-May. Still his dedicated small team persevered, and the reward was an outstanding fifth overall in the opener, the fourth BMW in the top five.

Did we mention that Leon came very close to earning his first career National Superbike win at Autodrome S-Eustache last year?

Rookie Pros Look Great

A very strong field of riders are aiming at the Brooklin Cycle Racing Pro Rookie of the Year Award in 2016, and so far reigning 2015 Magneti Marelli Amateur Superbike Champ Derrick Whyte is living up to his potential. Aboard his earlier model Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja with backing from Snow City and Lucas Oil, Whyte seems able to handle the big pressure in the Feature class, placing a very impressive eighth overall at the S.M.P. opener.

However Whyte’s arch-rival from 2015, Samuel Trepanier, was also in fine form in his Pro debut at Shannonville last weekend. Turning impressive laps aboard his Blysk Racing BeeMm, Trepanier had a big crash in Saturday morning’s session and missed the Dalton Timmis Qualifying sessions.

Starting from the back of the grid with patched up leathers and a bandaged arm, Trepanier worked his way up to place 11th best, an impressive result given the circumstances. Things should go better at the St-Eustache doubleheader just North West of Montreal.